Cammell Laird 37
Earlier this month I led a debate to call for a Public Inquiry into the potential historic injustice of the Cammell Laird 37. It is almost 40 years since Cammell Laird ship workers voted for strike action in an effort to save their jobs as the yard faced a round of 800 redundancies.
This led to a four-month occupation of a rig and frigate under construction at the yard, with the men only reluctantly agreeing to leave after having their water cut-off and threats of special forces taking them by force. The men were arrested as they left the rig they were occupying and imprisoned
at Liverpool’s HMP Walton without the representation of their choice. The strikers were also striped of their right to redundancy, pensions and blackballed from
Whilst documentation surrounding the imprisonment is scarce or admitted to having been destroyed by government departments involved in the case recently released documents suggest the Government of the time, led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, were keen to mothball the shipyard as they sought to privatise the sector.
These men were at the heart of a legitimate national industrial dispute about the very future of British Shipbuilding. Shipbuilding yards across the UK were pitted against each other. These men built the ships our defence industry relied upon, and they were also trying to defend their jobs that was the lifeblood of their community, but they were painted as militants and thrown into prison as the Thatcher Government sought to sell off the nations thriving shipbuilding industry.
I will continue to do what I can to fight on behalf of the 37, these men deserve justice, and the case resonates to this day as we see the current Tory government perpetually trying to smear key workers as they try to save their sectors.
You can read the full debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2023-02-07/debates/CA5DDD28-D60A-488B-99CC-4A882E885282/CammellLairdWorkersImprisonedIn1984#contribution-EF513323-A907-426F-AF8A-F59A3D18BAAF
And watch my speech here: https://twitter.com/GarethThomasMP/status/1623983587690258432
The Department for International Trade has recently been merged with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in a reshuffle by the Prime Minister. Whilst I understand there might be an argument for the interlinking of these two departments, I cannot help but fear this is an effort by government to sweep their appalling record on trade under the carpet, a move which will lead to even less scrutiny of the government on their failed trade policy.
The scheduled trade questions did go ahead and took the opportunity to ask Ministers from the newly amalgamated Department of Business and Trade (BaT) why exports to Germany from nations around the world are up but exports to Germany from the UK are DOWN. Was it the EU deal at fault or lack of support for exporters? Ministers once again didn’t have any explanation for these shocking figures.
I also pushed Ministers on their once much trumpeted trade deal with the United States. They, of course, never managed to secure a deal. Once again overpromising and underdelivering. A situation which is particularly problematic as
had they negotiated a free trade agreement with the U.S., as they all promised at the last General Election, British firms would have been protected from the Inflation Reduction Act that means new investment
& jobs here in green energy & tech are at risk. Unfortunately, the infighting in the Conservative Party last year led to Ministers waking up too late to the threat and they’ve done much too little since to respond to the problems these new subsidies will cause British firms.
You can watch and read Ministers evade these important questions here:
And here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2023-02-09/debates/28A6336D-E1B4-4669-B5C5-020EFA4A96B3/FreeTradeAgreementWithTheUS#contribution-614EF01C-1ECB-4814-9530-079B06F16777
Governor of Xinjiang - UK Visit:
As it turned out the Governor of Xinjiang, a man who appears to be directly responsible for human rights violations taking place towards the Uyghur Community,
ended up cancelling his visit to the UK. Until he did the Government were intent on meeting with rather than sanctioning him. A point I raised to the Minister.
Overseas Aid: Child Health and Education
Westminster Hall saw an important debate on overseas aid and its impact on the health and education of children around the world.
I have always believed that our first responsibility in this House is to our own citizens. However, there is also a moral responsibility for us, to do our bit to help those in the poorest countries.
It is in our self-interest to do so. DFID was a global leader throughout its existence, which enhanced UK soft power. Development assistance helps to build up markets, creating job opportunities not just in country but, as a result of trade, also benefits people here in the UK.
Read and watch my full speech here: